Terroir: My Life With A Sense of Place

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One day, I realized I could work from anywhere. So why not work from everywhere?

By selling pretty much 80% of what I own and creatively storing the rest, I will set out on my audacious plan to travel the world for 5 years. This is where I will share it all with you.

The plan?

I will avoid the heavy-lifting of paperwork by trying to limit my stays to 89 days or less, depending what statutes for any given country are. But I will also seldom stay less than 2 weeks, or really a month, because a) it’s more cost-effective to stay longer, but b) I have this thing about seeking the vibe of where I travel. A mix of sociology, history, culture really turn me on about places. I want to explore that.

I will try to prove I can live the good life for around $1,500 a month, tops $2,000, in Canadian bucks.

It’s not just about living the good life on a good budget, though. It’s about exploring places. Really exploring what geography is for us. What place gives to us. What location influences and inspires in how we are, and who we are.

Ilares Riolfi's photo of Valpolicella grapes, from Wikipedia.

Ilares Riolfi’s photo of Valpolicella grapes, from Wikipedia.

The Theme?

Like the title says, this journey will be about Terroir and finding my life with a sense of place. I will learn about foods, wines, regional values, local ethos, national attitudes, and so much more. I will compare and contrast how place affects the way we live, how we eat, and what we become.

“Terroir” is, according to Wikipedia, “the set of characteristics that the geography, geology, and climate of a certain place, interacting with plant genetics” and how it influences the end product with wine, coffee, tobacco, chocolate, Scotch, and, well, anything, really.

This blog will be the story of my journey in search of various terroir and its people along the way; where those roads lead me, who I meet, and what I find myself doing. It will contain photos, videos, stand-alone podcasts, and of course a whole lot of writing.

I’ll have some of available for all readers, but because I’d like to focus on travels more than “work,” there’ll be premium content areas for subscribers too. Both areas will have quality content, I promise, but backstage in the members’ area, you’ll find even more, like in-depth info on budgets and itineraries — how much it costs me to do what I do and what it includes. There’ll be lots more photos, long-form research and history, even recipes I learn from old grandmothers and savvy young chefs who dare to let me in their kitchens — because, believe me, I’ll be asking.

I’ll try to find real connections, like learning to forage for food with locals. I already have promising connections for truffle-hunting, wine harvest, and olive oil plantation visits in Croatia’s harvest season 2015. When not on farms or beaches, I’ll explore street markets, pester locals about traditional ingredients, push to find people who can turn me onto behind-the-scenes foodmakers. I’ll fluster though conversations with any and all people I meet, ‘cos that’s how I roll.

And Now, More Fails Than Ever Before!

All this, with none of the languages. I may start learning languages beforehand but I learn better in person. But I taught ESL for a few years, so I’m awesome at hand gestures and charades. Fun, right? Who doesn’t love mixed communications?

With my irreverence and twinkling eyes, I somehow usually connect with strangers. I’m looking forward to learning if my bumbling bravado is appealing overseas. God knows I’ll tell you about the big bowls of failure too. Screwing up keeps me honest and I do so love a good story.

I will have misadventures, inadvertent triumphs, well-schemed home-runs, and all kinds of stories to tell. This, these five years, they’re probably any serious writer’s bucketlist adventure. I know it will be hard, but it’s also gonna be fun, isolating, challenging, intimidating, rewarding, exciting, mind-blowing, and whew, who knows what else.

This blog will let me keep a little part of the world as my home. I won’t have many belongings, I’ll have no place that’s mine. But I’ll have this, and I think I’ll find much comfort in your comments, enthusiasm, sharing, and cheering me on.

Totally Extreme-Free!

If you want mountain-climbing, zip-lining, and all that sportsing stuff, man, this ain’t gonna be your blog. But if you like to hear about random stories with old folks on street corners, weird invitations to cook with grannies, accidental friendships, food-geeking at a market, or just full-on adoration for an out-of-this-world sunset, pondering life on a beach, or hearing about a stroll in a park, then I got your back. If history-nerding is your bag, you’ll get that here. Photography too.

I’ll leave the Everest-Base-Camping and shark-diving for my cooler-than-me friends. I volunteer for wine-tasting. I’ll bravely do that for you. Oh, I have to eat cheeses too? When will the suffering end?

I don’t need mountains to climb. I’ll have adventures, but they’ll be foodie adventures. Like when I stealthily stalk the goats of Croatia’s Pag Island as they eat salt-crusted wild herbs, and then track them till they reach their farmer, where I’ll demand he milk one and make cheese for me RIGHT THERE. Okay, no, but I want to eat that cheese. I will FIND that cheese. I WILL EAT. THAT. CHEESE. With wine. And a smug-ass smile on my face. As sunlight dapples the waves of the Adriatic and a choir of angels sings the “Hallelujah” chorus.

These are the contents of my bucket-list. This cheese from that herb-eating goat on that island. Wine, from that vineyard. Witnessing a salt harvest. Visiting a cork forest. Cycling [insert nation here]’s countryside. Sitting on the steps of Zadar’s sea organ. Hearing dog bark as it sniffs out the rare white truffle under a giant oak in an Istrian forest. Learning to forage for greens. Cooking with grannies. Barbecuing with men. Fishing with pros. Crawling the old towns. Visiting churches.

Tuscan Country Lane by AlohaMalakhov on Pixabay.

Tuscan Country Lane by AlohaMalakhov on Pixabay.

Home Is Where My Bags Will Be

I won’t be “backpacking.” I’ll have a suitcase. I don’t foresee a lot of hostels. I will work 20-25 hours a week for my day job and it requires a quiet room with a desk, so the minimum I will do is “private room.” I do like the idea of some of those multi-room informal-hotel AirBNB listings. I’ve found one with incredible reviews in a 200-year-old completely-updated building where my room would have THREE 6-foot-by-12-foot windows and TWO balconies, for $26/night… in Andalusia, Spain. Not too shabby. I can handle me some Spain.

I will also stay in private homes with families or single folk, to get crash courses in the culture. Sometimes I will rent whole apartments for a little space and restoration.

I have seven months to prepare now. I need vaccinations, downpayments, travel gear, a new computer. I need to sell most of what I own. Somehow, I know it’ll all work out okay. I’ll do a crowdfunding thingie where you can sign up for membership here, get my photography, have me send you postcards, Skype with me, even more.

Once abroad, I’ll seek a good travel bike. One of those folding doohickeys, and once I find it, my travels will be richer as a result. So will my photography. I’ll be able to live in the Breton countryside and cycle into town every day for baguette, or something.

For now, I plan to experience autumn and early winter in Croatia, then I’ll be off to Andalusia, Spain. Or maybe Sicily, then Spain. After that, who knows. Morocco? Portugal? France? Prague? They’re all on the list. So’s Ireland, Scotland, and Scandinavia. And a few more continents.

Where oh where could it lead? My guess: Everywhere. Thank goodness I’ll get to blog it.

I hope to count on your support. I’ll have captivating content for all my readers, subscribers and otherwise, but money goes a long way to taking this from a “great adventure while working” to a “dream-directed life”. I’d like the latter.

Either way, here’s when it really begins.


Showing 20 comments
  • Jason Sanders

    YAYYYY! Looking forward to your adventures!! Your site, by the way, is outta sight. Love the new blog.

    • Steffani Cameron
      Steffani Cameron

      Hurray! You’re my first comment! Thanks, Jason. 🙂

      Blog’s still gonna need a lot of tweaking but it’s a promising start! Jordan Behan was a buddy and gave me a hand. (Yay!)

  • Cathy Browne

    I’m so excited for you, Steff – and you already know I love what you write 🙂 Just an FYI, though – I can’t see anything on the header, because the font sort of melts into the photo. But I know I’m in the minority.

    • Steffani Cameron
      Steffani Cameron

      I hear ya, Cathy. Yeah, I’ve just made them a little bolder fonts, but you’ll find that changes post-to-post. I’ll have to find more neutral backgrounds it can pop against. Just the kind of theme it is. Just look for the unfamiliar photos and click for a new story. 🙂 And thanks!

  • Renée Layberry

    Looking forward to seeing this unfold!

    • Steffani Cameron
      Steffani Cameron

      Thanks, Renee! I’m looking forward to unfolding it. Haha. Geez. 🙂

  • Tanya

    Congrats, Steff! I’m really looking forward to following your adventures.

  • Mel

    That sounds like an awesome adventure, I can’t wait to hear about the places you’re going to visit. And I love that you already have categories for food and drinks, two of my favourite things 🙂

  • Jay

    Looking forward to hearing all the nitty gritty details about the logistics behind heading out on your adventure.

  • Kelle

    Wow, Steff! This is a seriously amazing adventure idea. I’m kind of jealous but at least I’ll get to live vicariously through you. I look forward to more stories! And, yanno, find out what you’re selling off 😉

  • Paula

    Best wishes, Steffani!!…Looking forward to following along with you on your travels!!

  • Shawn Cameron

    I’m looking forward to visiting you somewhere along the way!

    • Steffani Cameron
      Steffani Cameron

      Me too, Shawn!

  • Gina Alven

    Hope your travels are amazing. Can’t wait to read about your adventures.

  • Reply

    This is great! I love how much we have in common when it comes to interests, it makes it so inspiring to read your writing.

    Rich has a leave book in 2017, we are just starting to move from “what if” to “when we are” in our talks of what that time will entail. When the kids were young he and their mom took them on a 5 1/2 month cycling trip through Europe so if you’d like to talk with him, he’d be happy to share stories.

    Love this look of the new site, I’m finally getting to building my own too. Thanks for all that you write and post and Steff.

    • Steffani Cameron
      Steffani Cameron

      Aww, thanks, Chantal! I have a lot of finagling to do with the site but I like the look, at least.

      Sounds like an awesome memory for Rich (and the kids!) but it’s kind of more about my journey and finding out what’s right for me, through what I “just happen” to hear about and look into, so I won’t likely be picking people’s brains on stuff too much. I want to glean stuff from locals and wing it.

      But hey, if the conversation comes up while we’re out sometime, I’m all ears! 🙂

  • Andy Willis

    Good for you Steffani, I can feel your enthusiasm!!
    Great that you are following YOUR passion rather than going with the sporting/adventure crowd (although I’m sure there is a crowd out there with passions similar to yours of course), it’s all an adventure.
    I happen to fall into the other category as a self confessed cycling nut so I’ll be heading back over to the French Alps in June to climb a mountain or three for a couple of months.
    Our paths may cross if you happen to make your way to France at all, if you do make sure you make contact, I’d love to hear a progress report.
    If you’re looking to connect with other people “working from anywhere” around the globe check out this website where you can find and connect with others, it also has some great tips and stories http://www.workingfromanywhere.com.au
    “Carpe Diem”

    • Steffani Cameron
      Steffani Cameron

      Hah! Hey, Andy, thanks. I love cycling too, but more of the Dutch style la-dee-da “oh, look, a duck” kind of leisurely commute cycling. I’ll be trying to do a LOT of that, especially in France myself. I will be in France in summer 2016, likely, so looks like we’ll not be connecting. Maybe elsewhere! I hope you have a great trip. I’ll check out your accounts as well.

      • Andy Willis

        I’m in France every summer so you never know our paths may cross in 2016 🙂

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